James Harper is at his desk, and once again, he is sound asleep dreaming that it is 1946 in San Francisco. And he and his partner are working on a missing person case. But this case is not like any other. Dreams are our release from reality. Some are real, and some are just what they are-dreams. Jack Spade: Dream Detective is what James Harper wants to be-a success.
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Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Jack Spade:Dream detective" by Carl A Chase.]
2 out of 4 stars Review by ValtearTheShadebane Share This Review
Jack Spade: Dream Detective, by Carl A. Chase, is a detective story about Jack Spade, a successful private investigator living in 1947. Jack is hired by Thomas Jefferson, a wealthy banker, to find Mr. Jefferson's missing wife. The case takes Jack through the tough streets of San Francisco to meet with plenty of unsavory characters and close calls. With the help of his associates and the lovely club singer Jennifer, Jack peels back the layers of deceit to discover the dirty secrets between Mr. Jefferson and his wife. This story uses an intriguing way to bring Jack Spade to life: he exists only in James Harper's dreams. James Harper lives in Los Angeles in the 1980s and is also a private investigator, albeit an unsuccessful one. Out of work for two years, James finally gets an assignment that takes him to Paris to bring back his client's daughter, Chloe. On the way back, James must draw on his skills as a war veteran to bring Chloe home safely. The book tells two parallel stories but mainly focuses on Jack's adventures.
This seemed like a great story about two detectives working on separate cases and how they relate to one another. However, there is very little connection between the two throughout the story. James spends most of his days sleeping, giving the notion that his part in the book exists only to give life to Jack. The possibility that James is even aware of Jack is left unclear, but it does not matter anyway; Jack's adventures would be good enough as a novel by itself.
James Harper seemed a bit two-dimensional to me. For example, James spends a large amount of time sleeping and this is not seen as abnormal; he does not even comment on his exciting dreams. Details about James' childhood, his love for his young daughter, his relationship with his divorced wife, and his current work situation are given but they are left unresolved. I feel that it would have been better if James' part of the story was left out of the book since the addition of his activities does not appear to affect the dream world, where most of the story takes place.
In contrast, the characters in Jack's world are much more developed and entertaining, though I feel there were many unnecessary details about them thrown in. Some minor characters appeared in only a few scenes but their descriptions made it sound like they were going to be central to the plot. This was a bit confusing but it did not distract my attention from the plot too much. The dubious partnership between Jefferson and Moreno was a highlight in the book for me because it was interesting to see how far they would go to protect their secret.
The book reads like an action novel instead of a detective novel. The point of view at times switches to other characters and because of this the reader knows important clues before the detective does. Thus, when Jack picks up on these clues later, the reader is already aware of the implication and this lessens the suspense. Aside from that though, the action is fast-paced and the story closes with a surprising twist at the end.
This is could be a good detective novel, but as it is, it feels unfinished. This book could either do without James Harper or have his part expanded upon to provide more connection to the dream detective other than sleeping. I like the story idea: two detectives, one real, the other not, juxtapose them and have a thrilling detective story thrown in to boot, but seeing how little connection there was between the detectives, I was a little confused. As far as combining the mystery of dreams and the cold, hard reality of murder and deceit, Jack Spade: Dream Detective is a good start in that direction. Overall, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars.
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